Wireworms are the larval stage of the click beetle. (W. van Herk courtesy of Agriculture Canada)

Farmers in eastern P.E.I. are fighting an insect that could have devastating affects on crops this year, says one of the region's MLAs.

Wireworm has been a presence in Island fields for the past century, but MLA Alan McIsaac told the legislature Tuesday the pest is now getting to unmanageable levels on some farms.

"We have actually a catastrophe that's growing in my district and it's spreading east to Morell," said the Liberal backbencher Alan during question period.

McIsaac says farmers in eastern P.E.I. are in danger of losing their farms if something isn't done to address the increasing number of wireworms in crops such as potatoes and cabbage.

"We just don't have a real way of solving the problem with the chemical that we have at present, and the one that we are using … is going to be phased out."


Wireworms cause scarring on potatoes that make them unmarketable. (R. S. Vernon courtesy of Agriculture Canada)

McIsaac said the best pesticide for wireworm isn't approved in Canada. He asked Agriculture Minister George Webster to find a way to make the pesticide available on the Island, even if only as a trial.

But Webster doesn't believe that's possible.

"I don't believe we could take a product in that wasn't pretty much sanctioned by the pesticide regulatory body," he said.

P.E.I. could not circumvent the safety of our food chain."

Webster said three wireworm pilot projects are underway on P.E.I., but McIsaac said by the time results from those trials are in farmers could be out of business.